By Michael Mangano
Rex Aborts Two Take Offs in Two Days
Australian regional airline Regional Express experienced two aborted take-offs this week dues to engine concerns. During take-off checklists, two separate flights operating Saab 340 turbo-prop aircraft reported smoke and flames coming out of the starboard engines.
The first incident occurred Tuesday, April 5 at Melbourne Airport when flight ZL 3937 bound for King Island was alerted by the ground staff of flames or smoke from the left side engine. In response, according to the ATSB, the flight crew “shut down both engines, discharged the left engine fire extinguisher and ordered an evacuation”, with passengers being told to jump from the Saab to the safety of the ground.
During the evacuation, the Sydney Morning Herald reported at least one passenger suffered an injured knee and elbow.
Following up on the incident, Rex stated, “emergency services in attendance found no evidence of fire,” adding that the abort and evacuation followed standard procedures.
The following day, Wednesday, April 6, another Saab 340 was evacuated after boarding with smoke observed from the aircraft’s left engine also.
The flight from Roma to Brisbane, previously operated by Qantas, was boarded and preparing for take-off when the crew directed passengers to leave using the stairs. No passengers were injured in the evacuation.
In another statement released by Rex, the airline explained the occurrence had “no connection whatsoever” to the incident in Melbourne the previous day. It has been suggested that the aircraft’s ground power unit had malfunctioned and caused the flames seen in Melbourne.
While the ATSB investigates the incident at Melbourne, Rex has not grounded its fleet of Saab 340s at this point in time, with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority saying it has no concerns with Rex.
The aborted flights are just two of some major turbulence this week in Australian commercial aviation.
Wednesday saw major headlines across Australia highlighting the chaos of Sydney Airport, Australia’s largest and busiest. With passenger travel increasing as the Easter holidays loom, Sydney Airport staff have been unable to handle the sheer volume of passengers.
Terminals have been inundated with delays in security screening, noted to have been caused by staff shortages as Australia’s commercial flights increase to pre-COVID levels.
Additionally, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce suggested that the issues are resulting in part due to not “match fit” passengers, claiming they forgot to remove aerosols and laptops prior to security screening.
Following those comments, however, the Qantas CEO backtracked on his comments, stating “just to be clear, I’m not blaming passengers”.
Despite Mr Joyce’s commentary on passengers being the cause of some issues, Qantas itself has been forced to apologize for its poor customer service this week.
On Thursday, April 7, Qantas released an apology for the extremely long call wait times. Admitting they are “unacceptable”, the airline giant went on to explain they are unable to provide enough staff to assist passengers with flight changes, despite Qantas continuing to open up new routes.
According to one customer, Qantas kept them on hold for “four hours and disconnected,” with yet another statement that the reputation of Qantas is falling rapidly.
Qantas has stepped up its advertising campaign, with its latest advertisement including the famed Qantas children’s choir and notable Australian celebrities.
Qantas concluded its statement by saying “we’re working every day to improve the experience for our customers.”